Vox Populi

A curated webspace for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 16,000 daily subscribers. Over 7,000 archived posts.

Barbara Hamby: O Deceitful Tongue

You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

— Psalms 52:4 

Rogue slab in the slaughterhouse of the mouth, 
you love all words that whistle like bombs 

through the delphinium sky. O tongue that sucks 
honey from the vinegar bush—demagogue, street 

preacher, cutpurse at the afternoon hanging—break 
my neck a thousand times till I remember the digits 

of your prime number. Drunk tongue, warling, 
malt-mad forger in the bone orchard, give me 

your traitor’s code, so I can whistle my psalm 
through the sinworm night. Tongue of rough 

bread, blues tongue, wolf tongue. Kiss me, 
deceitful mouth, smash my curtain of skin, devour 

the air wild with bees, swallow their wings, 
make me a bloody hive for their bitter queen.


From On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014). Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author and publisher.

Copyright 2014 Barbara Hamby

Barbara Hamby was born in New Orleans and raised in Honolulu. She is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Holoholo (Pitt, 2021). She has also edited an anthology of poems, Seriously Funny (Georgia, 2009), with her husband David Kirby. She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.

Barbara Hamby

6 comments on “Barbara Hamby: O Deceitful Tongue

  1. Robbi Nester
    April 3, 2023



  2. Rose Mary Boehm
    April 3, 2023



  3. Loranneke
    April 3, 2023

    Inimitable, wild, fabulous vocabulary rich — what a JOY to read it, then read it again — but aloud!


  4. Vox Populi
    April 3, 2023

    Barbara is brilliant, isn’t she?


  5. Lisa Zimmerman
    April 3, 2023

    Wowza, what a poem!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on April 3, 2023 by in Most Popular, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 16,092 other subscribers

Blog Stats

  • 4,683,363 hits


%d bloggers like this: